No. 20: Tommy Collier, RHP
Right handed pitcher Thomas Collier was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft out of San Jacinto College North (Houston, TX). After signing, Collier was assigned to Class A Short Season-Connecticut to spend his first professional season. While at Connecticut, Collier was 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA across 7 starts, totaling 39 innings. He allowed only 28 hits and 10 walks, good for a 0.98 WHIP, while striking out 35 in the process. His 8.1 K/9 was nonetheless impressive, even for a college pitcher playing in short season ball. In 2012, Collier was assigned to Class A-West Michigan, where he spent the entirety of the season as a 22 year old, which is about the correct age for the level. He was quite effective at West Michigan, throwing 124 2/3 innings across 24 starts with a 2.74 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Solid numbers to be sure, but the K/9 dropped from 8.1 down to 6.1, and the BB/9 rose slightly from 2.3 to 2.7, still a very good BB/9.
Collier offers a solid 3 pitch mix, with a fastball, slider, and changeup making up his repertoire. The fastball sits around the 90-92 range, occasionally bumping up to 93, but it shows solid movement and good sinking action, which allows the pitch to earn the occasional 55 grade, as opposed to just the 50 average grade. His slider is probably his best pitch, as it flashes plus potential at times by showing tight spin and good break, both horizontal and downward. The slider sits in the low to mid 80's, usually around 82-85, and occasionally higher or lower at times depending on how he throws it. His 3rd pitch is the changeup, which doesn't grade out as much more than average, but is still a useable pitch that can be effective. He throws it with excellent arm speed and from the same arm slot as his fastball, which helps it to be deceptive, and it flashed plus fade at times, but from what I saw it lacked the consistency to grade as a plus pitch long term. There have been reports than Collier also throws a curveball, but I didn't see one when I saw Collier pitch last season. He's still recovering his command from before his arm surgery, but it's definitely on the way back. 2013 should be a good season for Collier, as he should be back to 100% strength and hopefully will have regained his command completely.
Collier has the ceiling of a back end starter with the ability to eat innings and get lots of groundballs due to his heavy fastball, although I wouldn't classify him as a pure sinkerball pitcher, a la Rick Porcello. Collier's slider will hopefully allow him to miss bats at the major league level, which will in turn, obviously, make him more effective. He had a nice year in West Michigan in 2012, so it's possible that the Tigers push him all the way to Class Double A-Erie in 2013, although he could also go to Class A Advanced-Lakeland if the Tigers see fit. Either way, Collier looks to be a low ceiling/high floor guy to me, who has a pretty good shot to pitch in the majors.